Skip to main content

tv   Diana Preston on A Higher Form of Killing  CSPAN  May 28, 2015 11:30pm-12:41am EDT

11:30 pm
to their sister for a birthday present. so with that sense of purpose it sounds like a bad pun but high purpose.
11:31 pm
>> good evening ladies and gentlemen,. i serve as the president
11:32 pm
here that we are delighted to welcome you to the very energizing conversation real robber think full to the memorial or the museum. welcome we're glad you're here again we're glad you took time to come back and spend time in the park the museum was designated by congress as a museum for world war war memorial that was only given that on your december last year 2014. so we are delighted to be the united states national museum and memorial it carries with it all the prestige that congress has taken action to pass something.
11:33 pm
[laughter] so that his reason jews celebrate of the distinguishing action of 2014 of the bipartisan bill. pleased to welcome the english speaking union to be grateful for the support of this project i am especially pleased flow of the co-sponsors of the 60-kilometer bike ride on sunday where we were having a drink one of the students asked if i spoke british in australia. [laughter] the world was forever changed to have that injuring impact when is of
11:34 pm
legacy of how they die or who is killed in the summer of 19,581st year of role for one for those who were targeted and killed were changed. to identify three pivotal events with a new era of warfare said targeting of of a merchant ship with three nations on board that is often display in the bombing of london. the rules changed and they are still fluid to this very day. donna will deliver her presentation after their brief q when day period and
11:35 pm
also of c-span is building this plays be aware there filming. board and raised in london to study history at oxford university where she became involved in journalism. she was of free-lance writer of the newspapers and magazines with reviewed books for other publications including "the wall street journal" and "los angeles times" also with the bbc and canadian broadcasting corporation and documentary's. ladies and gentlemen, please jury may to welcome donna. [applause] >> hq very much for those kind words. it is a great honor and
11:36 pm
privilege to be here this evening. in the spring of 1915 of the first world war that were 38 pivotal events that signal a change of warfare that is why i would like to discuss with you this evening. tour talk about this we need to route go back to before. floor when i call a higher form of killing. with the first world war attempts were made as
11:37 pm
conference is to regulate the conduct of a civilized nation. no one busher of those international conventions could succeed. with jackie fisher one of those of technical development and certainly was not convinced that all nations want peace and he said you might as well talk about violence and a moderation where the picture
11:38 pm
itself of the arms race. but with history and american counterparts and the second conference from civilian areas with poison weapons including incorporating gases. the image a the al lusitania with jackie fisher and the admiral to attack merchant ships in from the time of
11:39 pm
henry teeeight despite the arguments that they were impractical with the torpedo bearing submarines what is the effect of this? new technology of the submarine to the archaic prove. to say that day prohibited those attacks on any merchant vessels for those to be searched and only then could they be sunk but dash you know the best efforts to
11:40 pm
shake those european powers in the arms race early august 1914 with the assassination with the archduke prince ferdinand taken just minutes before the assassination. so breaking out between the german and hon period empires on the one hand and russia on the other. britain joined earlier on the russian side following germany's invasion fe flagrant disregard of international law. the german chancellor argued
11:41 pm
necessity knows no lot is. but typically it is hypocritical of what he calls a scrap of paper. which those powers had belgian neutrality. but i think the words are important in for what could occur throw a the war. end expedience the. as you know to be in camps
11:42 pm
in the west with territory. however by the end of the year to stabilize the position. to have a line running 460 rials from switzerland to the north sea. the discussion because they needed to achieve that. so before they could fully succeed so with that economic potential. so what we see happening
11:43 pm
poison gas and the use of the torpedo and is considered the new longer-range sudbury and which was the product of engineering already but he fell to disrupt the allies handed particular the line of communication. according to one german officer for the employment of submarines with warfare to argue that he says the
11:44 pm
shipping trade should cease. we have something extremely significant germany announcing a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare as jury declared so of a statement in the u.k. followed by the united states president woodrow wilson and secretary of state william jennings bryant and more of a little later on.
11:45 pm
by march 1950 with the british port of liverpool to attack the lender of this titania -- and lusitania. with the largest and most luxurious ship but it was in wartime. so in that success will to bomb london so on either side to have any capability
11:46 pm
the following is that population for the war to be continued and if what we do is frightful to do take active in the british in the mutual press for jury's actions however those officers failed to convict the kaiser. why? because the feelings were highly ambivalent. and with those policies with
11:47 pm
those landmarks for what we see here also those between morality and expediency. and the indiscriminate building from women and children. fyi and could set fire then to be in a small way something powerful. battle that lies should be situated on the city. but it was less expensive.
11:48 pm
with the battlefield use because it was a new option. as a weapon before the war began but that military use by this gentleman here, a german chemist because there is the major explosion of says co-workers. of not only casualty's of these psychological warfare. but 1815 she had a weapon that he couldn't demonstrate to the high command.
11:49 pm
from the military statement stalemate seen by this gentleman here churchill, to be demanding to attack the german ally. of the political ahead of admiralty they were responsible both against submarines and aerial bombardment. so the submarines would take very few measures to but what about air attacks?
11:50 pm
will those combustible gas with of possibility with the blackout but beyond that there was little that he could do those that could scarcely reached a altitudes in the morning of 22nd of april at half past five with those german engineers with 6,000 cylinders racing
11:51 pm
168 tons to the french and canadian churches that causes death by a asphyxiation. to be supervised during war time. with a country but in peacetime and known to the world. to the day gap and then to fail to take a vantage of a breach but a french general
11:52 pm
describes those to give them all the air that they could get. and in it a horrible sight over the next few days have german troops watching to be horrified with the allied soldiers to improvise as rudimentary but one soldier described how felt as he was gasping and gasping for breath.
11:53 pm
that i was wounded in my mind. and then to reply to a request of his commander in the field of the rebels to defeat the germans. to agree to the production but the german high command to build the much larger supplies of and if they had a large-scale attack the
11:54 pm
bush have won the war we have the german submarine to leave the north face. the same day rehab said german embassy in washington within to follow a the morning. and then to sit there to see something strange. with the american passengers in the others to juxtapose of the of lusitania that very afternoon.
11:55 pm
just a lot gets those german measures say anybody intending to fail with allies but most of them from vanderbilt and trusted from boston from the atlantic threatened to attack by the german u-boat's. but as well as her passengers and then the many
11:56 pm
cases then it it begins to captain william turner from the british admiralty but it is about to enter. but they slipped into the private room and then the next day than the ship was just off the tip of ireland
11:57 pm
but then to attend that afternoon had the of this stadia in his sights. they saw the white streaks across the surface of the water he said it was like trying on the ocean with the piece of chalk. it was the torpedo of course, the passengers said there was a slight shock through the deck then the explosion but i the secondary and tertiary experience. just 88 minutes later but
11:58 pm
then to drop into the water. and then to describe the valiant rescue attempts when he heard a woman's voice please won't you help the you know, that i cannot swim? she had half of a smile on her face and was chewing gum. he pulled her to safety but there was another survivor
11:59 pm
that drew up alongside from queenstown. . .. they were stacked among the coils of rope on the walls. of the 1900 people had been aboard the ship 1198 have died including 128 citizens of the mutual united states and the children. the german government hailed for syncing as to quote from the german newspaper the triumph of the kurdish and superior technology. it was the crown prince who telegraphed his father from the
12:00 am
western front to tell him of the great joy among the troops at the news. it was here in the 17th century courthouse just up the coast we have the irish coroner reporting the verdict of the willful murder of the in the deaths of the victims. he received an urgent message from the british admiralty that was ordering him to holt to request for revealing the secrets. they had done more to protect the lusitania. but there's also something else
12:01 am
at work. fisher and churchill feared incorrectly as it later turned out that the large quantities of the american rifle in the inanition being imported into ship's cargo might have exploded at the moment that torpedo hit hastening the ships and. had this been true if would have lost some of the propaganda. she had the world sympathy. they didn't want anything to be said that would undermine that. as a result they begin orchestrating a cover-up to deceive the end of a double public inquiry that the new would be held. but meanwhile, in germany, we have this lady here, the wife of fritz, herself a chemist quarreling with her husband who just returned to berlin about the morality of his use of poison gas. in undertaking this may come
12:02 am
three weeks after the first gas attack, we knew that she was so distressed that she took her husband's service revolver, went into the garden of the balloons over and shot herself. the same day haber nearly promoted the leftist plan for the prompt to continue and to refine the use of chlorine gas to be used as a weapon against the russians. but she soon returned to berlin to oversee work. but it's now that we move on to the bombing campaign. in 1915 they finally permitted the bombing of london. the sports desk the next day when the 40 days after the first gas attack, 20 for since the lusitania sank and on the 303rd day of the first world war
12:03 am
530 feet long by 60 feet in diameter, and filled with over a million cubic feet of gas took off to attack london. one of them had to turn back and they flew on a limited top speed of just over 60 miles per hour. around 11 p.m. his ship was over the state on which he dropped the first bomb ever to fall on the city.
12:04 am
here we have that picture on the first rate of london. seven people were killed including an 8-year-old boy. his words here he said my finger hovered on the button that electrically operated the bombing operators. then i pressed it and we waited. then it seemed to pass before the song of the engines rose a shadow and cascade of sparks and a bellow of incandescent smoke drifted slowly to reveal the raging fire on the face of the wounded city.
12:05 am
the london inquest learned how the couple had been trapped by fire in the bedroom. they were discovered dead dealing by their bed as if in prayer the husbands arm around his wife. the verdict on those killed was willful murder of the sinking of the lusitania three weeks earlier. in the united states we have the government under president wilson by now arguing about just how far to press the protests to germany about the loss of the lusitania and demand that they cease the campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare. most u.s. public opinions have been massively hostile.
12:06 am
it was before the loss of the lusitania and one day in the cabinet he said to his colleagues. he got a very dusty response for the president. he went home that weekend to think things over and over the weekend ended he resigned knowing that it would be the end of his political career that he would be reviled and he was current. this was typical of the sort of cartoons that appeared in the american press. what we are seeing is applauding the reasons for resigning. but meanwhile that's just this time in london in the admiralty officials were preparing their evidence to put before the official inquiry to the sinking. they were selecting and shaping
12:07 am
the evidence. for a while they considered scapegoating that then they had the idea of suggesting suggesting what had caused the lusitania to sink so fast was that she had been sunk by two torpedoes not a single one that they knew perfectly well from the german messages have actually been fired. accordingly, they selected witnesses prepared to back up the story. and the end. self placed the blame on germany whose submarine concluded had fired the two were more torpedoes that had hit the ship and there's a copy in this museum of the inquiry's conclusions. but meanwhile, while it had been sitting to the public in london
12:08 am
had nervously been speculating about the possibility of another and the fears were proven correct on the 17th of august when they dropped bombs and then over london before returning unscathed this time hitting the heart of the city that some of you may know. it unsettled london even further. observers noted how will they called a zeppelin whether the dark finite, london theaters were reporting much smaller audiences. an american reporter who was in london described one. he said among the stars it is dull yellow the color of the harvest moon the fingers and searchlights reaching up from the city touching all sides of
12:09 am
the deaf messenger with the white tip. great beaning shakes the city. it is the sound of the bombs falling, and another onlooker reported seeing a streak of fire shooting down straight at me. he said i stared at it hardly comprehending. the bomb struck the restaurant just a few yards away then was burning in the road. 22 people were killed and the next day they demonstrated out in the streets for better protection. but what about gas? on the 25th of september, the british who had at first command germany's use just five months previously made their own military use during the battle. the attack failed.
12:10 am
the wind changed and blew a lot of the gas back over the british troops. the wrong turning piece had been sent with 5,000 cylinders of corine so that the contents could not be released. even worse, they excluded some of the cylinders causing yet more damaging gas cheesecake to the british lines. in fact as 1915 through to a close, none of the technologies have a decisive effect. then in spring of 1916 it was getting into the u.s. demand that the germany seized the campaign. they resigned in protest but the admiral wrote a frank and counseling letter and this is what he said you are the one german sailor that understands the war.
12:11 am
killed were enemy without kilgore enemy without being killed herself. he said i don't blame you for the submarine business. i would have done the same myself from yours until hell freezes. however, germany of course returned against the merchant shipping later that year. president wilson again protested. this time refusing to budge and in the spring of 1917 the united states declared war joining the allies. but although only two years have passed, we can see how potent the memory still was. this is a recruitment poster which there is a copy of the museum here. if you look at the original you will see that single word superimposed in blood red over the image of a drowning lusitania passenger. in "the new york times," news correspondents reported american troops advancing into battle
12:12 am
shouting remember the lusitania and one contemporary commentator said that although in 1915 the lusitania failed to deliver 200 american citizens safely to liverpool that in 1917 and 1918, herb roasted delivered 2 million american troops to the western front. what is happening now with poison gas? all participants continued to use it for the remainder of the war either released from cylinders or as gas filled artillery shells. we knew that at the conclusion that stocks of poison gases were much larger than the german ones. fritz harber continued to lead
12:13 am
with mustard gas that caused skin burns as well as injuring eyes and lungs. scottish soldiers were affected because they refuse to wear anything other than celts on their lower bodies. but he argued that even after the end of the first world war ii quote the use of gas was a way of saving countless lives if it meant it could be brought to an end sooner. indeed, he said it was full of killing, the title of my book. the indiscriminate bombing of london continued. eventually the performance was overtaken by that of british fighter planes and germany turned to these. the attacks led to the overstretching of the emergency services to panic among the city's inhabitants and many deaths including 18 children
12:14 am
when the school at the east and took a direct hit. but whatever the consequences of what are the consequences of all of this after the war ended? after world war i disarmament conference is reaffirmed the ban on the use of gas but not on research or stockpiling it. this was in the 1925 credit and they also bombed the civilian areas and the sinking without warning of merchant shipping. but of course as we go through the 1930s, we see these provisions challenged. 1936 -- i pushes this is an awful image to show you. they used mustard gas in the conquest. japan did the same in the invasion of china. worried about germany like italy might in spite of having ratified the particle might be
12:15 am
prepared to use gas in any future conflict we have britain and france building up stocks of gas to retaliate if necessary. they also took precautions by 1938 the british, for example had issued 30 million gas masks to the public including hot respirators for babies. the greatest fear was that attacking bombers would release gas. the district of power have again been shown a year earlier. in april, 1937 during the spanish civil war when the german and italian planes destroyed killing 1600 people into leaving to the phrase weapons of mass destruction to describe the bombs.
12:16 am
such was the fear of the mass bombings and gas bombing in particular but when world war ii broke out in september, 1939 in britain every one was ordered always to carry a gas mask with them and children were evacuated out of london away from any new blades. one government estimate that came across was that in the first three weeks of the bombing offensive, a quarter of a million would die. three to 4 million would flee and perhaps as many as 1 million would become psychiatric cases. of course both sides bombed extensively in world war ii. london as we see here suffered another and later both britain and the u.s. used this to destroy. the nuclear bombs destroyed hiroshima and nagasaki.
12:17 am
such attacks were justified by gas but it is actually the worst and other methods of warfare and that would shorten the war and save many allied lives. what about the submarine warfare clicks on the opening day of the second world war winston churchill was reappointed the head of the british admiralty again. that same day we had a german have a german submarine sinking without warning the british liner. over 100 lives were lost including 28 citizens of the new journal united states. hitler's propaganda minister accused churchill of having the bomb detonated on board to create what he called the lusitania for his own political
12:18 am
advantage. subsequently, both sides reverted to unrestricted submarine warfare. in 1942 we have u-boats sinking 8 million tons at a time when allied shipyards could only turn up some 7 million. it was only improvements in underwater detection is the reins and increased air cover that brought victory in the battle of the atlantic. no country either acts in the second world war except for japan and china. it is perhaps the first example of a success of mutual deterrence. but have churchill ever seriously considered using gas? the answer is yes. as prime minister in 1940 he planned for the possible use of poison gas as a last resort
12:19 am
against any german invasion. and later he shot off a memorandum which actually came to nothing but said this i want you to think very seriously over the question of using poisonous gas. he went on i wouldn't use it unless it would be shown that it was life or death or that it would shorten the war by a year. he said it is absurd to consider morality on the topic. in the last war the bombing was forbidden, not everybody does it as a matter of course. it is simply a question of fashion changing as it does between long and short skirts for women. but the president roosevelt resisted the popular u.s. callers to use gas against japan expressed in the press headlines
12:20 am
that isn't to say there were not any british or american casualties. they wanted gas supplies at hand to gas supplies at hand so they could retaliate against any use. in december, 1943, the ss john harvey was lobbying in italy with cargo on board. 100 german bombers attacked the port hitting the ship and releasing a significant amount of gas, nearly 2,000 people military and civilian died directly because of the gas. today that 1925 protocol that i mentioned actually not ratified by the u.s. until the 1970s prohibiting the use of chemical weapons remains in force but as we all know, poison gas has been
12:21 am
used since the second world war. a number of examples of it. in the yemeni civil war in the 1960s, by iraq in the 1980s the most infamous use of gas i apologize when i was talking about the attack the most infamous poison gas attack was against its own population. here in march of 1988 when 5,000 were killed. iraq undoubtedly possessed poison gas during the 1991 gulf war but didn't use it and after the war iraq agreed to give up its weapons of mass distraction and many were destroyed. however, allied to suspicion that had retained some of the
12:22 am
key stated reason for the 2003 invasion of iraq. after the second gulf war the only wmd discovered was some 500 aged mustard gas shells. in 1997, we have the u.s. the ussr and others including the uk bringing into force a new the new chemical weapons convention prohibiting research on into the use of such weapons and mandating the digital description. could destruction. but of course we will see the reports in the news and in the civil war in syria they have been used. as for the submarines after the second world war, submarines became an increasingly important part of the nations. here we have the british tried
12:23 am
and much under debate at the moment back in the uk. as for the bombing of continuous of course to be used. states came with greater degrees of justification. nevertheless, they continue to be made with the damage accepted as inevitable consequence of the understandable preference to deploy air power rather than to expose them to greater hazards. looking back they still remain a resident milestones and in 1918
12:24 am
this gentleman here the american philosopher commented that the one phase that is likely permanently to remain is the systematic utilization of the scientific expert. by the military use of poison gas they lost their innocence a fact underlined by the manhattan project and the second war and the potential today for biological weapons. what i want to leave the last two albert einstein who said this some years after the end of the first world war but it is become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity and we can only hope i
12:25 am
think that he was wrong. and thank you so much. >> spigot this time i would like to invite michael preston who is the co-author to come up for the time of question and answer and you will notice on either side of the auditorium down at the bottom of the stairs there are two microphones and i would ask that you would come down. if you were able to walk down the stairs i can come to you. >> i want to thank you for a wonderful presentation. that was very nicely done. next month i'm going to be going to the imperial war museum and i
12:26 am
understand there's five and the one i'm thinking about heads to the aviation. are there ones that specialize world war i or topic that you've talked about? >> it's a magnificent place to go to particularly at the moment. >> thank you very much. >> the germans seem to have a propensity to breaking international law. but what was the reaction from
12:27 am
the rest of the world when these advanced these three events that you talked about tonight what was the reaction from the rest of the world if there was any? >> when we talk about the rest of the world at his best it is best to see the natural world because response of the allies would be predictable. but the new journal world was shocked by the lusitania with so many women, children on board and very shocked by the aerial bombardment of london because after all this was a direct attack on civilians that's one that still retains today as it did at the time.
12:28 am
it's something you can't necessarily see at the time something that you might feel the effects very long after from that of the the same time of course in the countries that were at war if they saw the weapon of gas being used on the battlefield we have to have the same. >> i've always thought of it as kind of silly maybe because they seem so dangerous to me from what i've heard. did they make it a program of their own? >> they did make some attempts to build airships that were conspicuously unsuccessful. >> it was never really taken seriously. and as i just touched about in the talk they tried to put their effort into developing better fighter planes to deal with the zeppelins because first of all that seemed to people something
12:29 am
that isn't quite real if you read the letters and diaries of those but with this they say drifting across the sky is above london it seemed like something fantastical. people even wrote about the beauty of these objects until they began to fall and the reality begin to hit and again you see it from the letters and diaries of the psychological impact it had. the people no longer felt safe anywhere, anytime of day or night whatever they were doing. but there was a curious sense that they developed a sinister reputation and you find that they are being announced as baby killers.
12:30 am
>> i don't know about the post response. i no from the church leaders who preached about a just war.
12:31 am
and then in germany berlin they talked about german victory. people should be supporting. i don't know what his position was on this. >> in the head peace treaty of 1904 i thought there was also the size of the poisonous gas and submarines there was an explosive ammunition part of that. and, of course all the killing that took place with the artillery, i wonder if you could elaborate on that.
12:32 am
>> basically what was banned in the 1st take convention was the use of dumdum bullets. what was basically banned in the 3rd hague convention of 1899 the use of dumdum bullets which exploded in the body creating a bigger mess with then it. they continue to be banned's among others by the british and conflicts before the 1st world war's. ordinary explosive shells in the terms of artillery shells explosives developed and were not banned in that sense. >> i read a little bit about his role. have some excellent photographs of them. those are fantastic.
12:33 am
where did you get source on those? >> we did quite a little work and archives in berlin's, the collection which have been brought together. when the intellectual heart at the time. the institute. those aegis of the overall archives. papers and photographs command we had quite a lot of assistance from the archivists who are able to talk to about the duality. and what later happened to him. of jewish background in 1933 and came to england. found himself rejected and an outcast's no longer
12:34 am
allowed to enter. >> i remember reading that part. it was an interesting part of his history the fact that he was jewish. that happened a lot to my understand a lot of brilliant jewish scientists that left left and not all of them did leave, which was pretty fortunate. >> very good that some of them left as they were the ones who helped develop the atomic weapons here rather than anywhere else. >> goes back to somebody's question. when he did come had set up a trust to help jewish colleagues find jobs at academic institutions in the united kingdom's. perfectly prepared. a leading member of the
12:35 am
establishment not prepared to shake his hand because he was the 1st user of poison gas. >> other more question still out there? there will be time afterwards is. one last question. >> a been watching this documentary on netflix, 14 diaries of war about the world war i. talked about how overtime the tactic changed like not killing the enemy but exhausting them, the psychological effect as well exhausting them and draining the british and french treasuries to care for them. when did that become the norm?
12:36 am
>> it was always part of the tactic. psychologically. and then as the years went on basically by getting the troops wearing gas masks come on the lookout to have some stress and to make the ability much less. that came. very clever. they were trying to in their eyes and pull the mess off. is the greatest benefit that that we kill people week in the mile. >> some of the things right at the beginning. psychological imponderables.
12:37 am
there would always be doubt about whether this should be deployed against them. he could be varied debilitating. it's. [applause] >> thank you. >> ladies and gentlemen it has been a rich evening. i want to draw your attention to a knew exhibition that arrive just last weekend. one of the most comprehensive exhibitions that the museum has curated with more than 20 countries represented in exhibition. more than 150 objects include many of the things we discussed year deck chairs from the lusitania,
12:38 am
various gas masks and gas within products. more than 150 objects only one has been previously exhibited. it is quite an extraordinary exhibition. just to brief comments' about memorial day weekend. two things to say during that weekend we have an 80 percent scale replica of the vietnam war. 400 feet long on the south lawn open throughout the weekend friday through monday. we invite you to bring your friends to that. also memorial day 10:00 a.m. primary ceremony and the museum on that day will be opened without charge. we invite we invite you to be a part of that. check out the website for a a full list of more than 20 activities during the
12:39 am
memorial day weekend. please join me again in thanking our guests for deeply engaging. you will hear her soon on mpr. thank you. [applause]
12:40 am

8 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on